Former featherweight titlist Billy Dib is picking himself up, dusting himself off and aiming for a rematch with Evgeny Gradovich, who took his title in a hard-fought split decision on March 1.
Dib had a rematch clause in his contract with Gradovich, but it wasn't a requirement that the second fight happen immediately. So instead of facing Australia's Dib right away, Russia's Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) is taking an interim fight and will defend his belt against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina on July 27 in Macau, China.
Dib (35-2, 21 KOs), meanwhile, will try to rebound from the loss and fight his way into the rematch when he faces Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round bout that was elevated to the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 ET) at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Oliver's hometown.
The original main event -- the first solo promotion for rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Promotions -- was supposed to have featured light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, against Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), a former world title challenger who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament. Green, however, pulled out of the fight Friday due to food poisoning.
Dib, 27, is trying to put the disappointment of losing his world title behind him.
"I fought the wrong fight and paid the ultimate penalty," Dib said. "It was really hard for me to lose my IBF belt, which meant so much to me. But the great news is, I know I can win it back. I have to give Gradovich credit for his performance, but it'll be a different outcome in a rematch. I will make a statement in this fight to let world featherweight champions know that Billy Dib is still here."
The 33-year-old Oliver is coming off a 22-month layoff and isn't expected to pose too many issues for Dib. In Oliver's most recent fight, he was knocked out in the second round by former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011. Oliver's two other losses came by third-round knockout, both in 2008.
"He's a crafty southpaw," Dib said of Oliver. "People are going to see a rejuvenated Billy Dib, an aggressive fighter who is coming to fight Oliver. I was shown a lot of love and respect after my last fight in America [the Gradovich fight, which was also in Connecticut], and I will return that love with a devastating performance and knockout victory."